Scurry: A Game that Gathers Speed is an appealing, minimalist tabletop role playing game (TTRPG) by Brian Tyrrell, published by Dungeons on a Dime Press. In Scurry, players take on the roles of small animals in a post-titan (the animals’ name for humans) future world. Nature has taken back an environment previously ravaged by humanity and beasts have evolved to form civilized societies, while retaining their cute animal characteristics (i.e they don’t stand erect or wear clothes – this isn’t meant to be Planet of the Apes). The beasts go on ‘scurries’, short and urgent adventures to achieve specific goals. Scurry has beautiful art and layouts that spectacularly evoke the natural, cartoon-inspired setting and it’s lots of fun to play.
Scurry is simple to learn, fast paced, emphasizes narrative and team work. One player takes on the role of the Scurry Master (SM) who describes the environment, telegraphs dangers, presents conflicts and builds suspense. The game is very easy to pick up and play – so much so that it’s ideal for younger players or those new to TTRPGs – and you can run an adventure in about 1-2 hours.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is the unique progress system – a clock with 4 segments, reminiscent of a progress clock in Blades in the Dark but used differently, that ticks down during the adventure. Each time the clock fills the size of the polyhedral die used to resolve conflicts reduces one step i.e. the highest die – a D12 – becomes D10, reducing each time all the way down to D4. This makes conflict resolution more difficult as the adventure goes on, with the urgency growing as the clock fills and the die reduces. And yes, you read that correctly – everyone uses the same die to resolve their conflicts. Simple, isn’t it?
There are no character stats in Scurry. That’s right – you don’t ‘roll up’ a character. Instead, players use their beast’s Tags to help resolve conflicts. Tags are narrative constructions the player can implement in the game to give them advantage on a roll (for the non-D&D gamers among us – you roll two dice instead of one to determine success). Note that rolling is only needed if success is considered unlikely. Tags can be changed between scurries as needed and while there are often no explanations as to what each does, this provides more freedom for players to describe how they apply them in conflicts.
Each beast’s Tags include membership in a guild, skills, tools, talents and traits. Guilds are like unions, providing a skill e.g. ‘Fairwinders’ are a guild for migratory birds, who can barter effectively to get deals on items. Tools can be almost anything that might help a beast on a scurry – a fine toothed comb could be used as a gift or a glowworm to see by. Talents are specific areas of expertise – ‘Being Small’, ‘Moving Like the Wind’. Traits are distinct physical characteristics – a mouse has ‘grabby hands’, ‘poison-wary senses’ and ‘soft fur’. Any of these tags might be used descriptively during the scurry to provide advantage on a dice roll, depending on the situation.
The scurry ends when the players grow too tired and become exhausted – basically, when the clock is almost at an end after 24 segments. There’s a little more to it than that, but you can find out for yourself when you experience the game.
Scurry includes a charming forest setting – Bristley Woods in Scotland – however the SM could place this setting anywhere or easily make their own if they prefer. Three linked scurries are included in the book, forming a mini-campaign. These scurries make interesting uses of ancient technologies and ecological themes, further reinforcing the differences between beast society and the titans.
There is much to love about Scurry, especially if you enjoy narrative-driven games that emphasize role playing. It has wonderful layouts and evocative, cartoon-influenced art, uses simple rules that are easy to learn, is fast paced and supports positive environmental themes. It’s ideal for players young and old, whether they are experienced with TTRPGs or not.
Do yourself a favor and check it out.
In the interests of transparency, I was provided with a free copy of Scurry for review purposes.
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